President, Tenement Museum
The Tenement Museum was founded in 1988 and works to fulfill its distinctive mission:
To tell the uniquely American stories of immigrants, migrants, and refugees in the ongoing creation of our nation.
The Tenement Museum tells the story of American immigration, the core of our continually evolving American identity and a central part of today’s national conversation. Personal stories of immigrant families allow visitors to encounter immigration as an essential force in shaping this country and to absorb how much our open society, democratic institutions, cultural creativity, and economic vitality owe to our experience as a nation of immigrants.
Established in 1988, the Tenement Museum has become one of New York City’s preeminent cultural and educational institutions, welcoming in 2018 more than 278,000 visitors including 78,696 students. Its two historic tenements on Orchard Street were home to an estimated 15,000 people from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 2000 and represent the heart of the museum. Visitors are guided by educators through restored apartments and retail spaces in the buildings, explore the surrounding neighborhood’s history and culture, and directly and powerfully experience how immigrants weathered hard times and built new lives.
The Tenement Museum’s current core programming includes more than 20 different tours and specialty programs involving 97 Orchard Street, 103 Orchard Street, and the Lower East Side which vividly convey immigrant experiences: the grinding toil of the sweatshop, nativist hostility and discrimination, economic hardship in the devastating depressions of 1873 and the 1930s, and throughout, the indomitable will of these newcomers to survive and succeed in a new world. In July 2017, the Tenement Museum opened a powerful new exhibit, Under One Roof, telling the story of three families who lived at 103 Orchard Street in the decades after World War II: the Epsteins – Holocaust survivors permitted to enter the United States under the nation’s first refugee program; the Saez-Velez family, whose migration to New York exemplified the development of the major Puerto Rican community on the mainland; and the Wongs, whose immigration from Hong Kong contributed to the growth of the largest Chinatown outside Asia. This expansion, the cornerstone of a $20 million capital campaign, enables the museum to serve 50,000 additional visitors annually and to explore the effects of the 1924 Immigration Act, which limited the number of immigrants through a national origins quota and its subsequent revisions, which saw the nation’s return to historic American ideals in admitting immigrants.
In addition to guided tours of its historic immigrant apartments, the Tenement Museum offers a wide range of educational programs and teaching tools, as well as regular public programs that provide opportunities for discussion about the immigrant/migrant experience past and present. A cultural anchor and economic engine for the Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum is an affiliated site of both the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In 2018, the Board embarked upon a new five-year strategic plan, which expands the museum’s institutional priorities in key areas in order to:
- Achieve more dramatic growth in reach and impact;
- Tell stories of and to a broader range of people who shape the American identity;
- Expand its leading voice offering historical context on issues of immigration, migration, and American identity; and
- Continue providing a best-in-class experience, both digital and nondigital, through all of the museum’s offerings.
The Tenement Museum is governed by a Board of Trustees, currently consisting of 28 members, and has an annual budget of approximately $11 million. Temporarily currently closed due to the pandemic, when fully operational the museum is managed by a staff of approximately 70 full-time and 75 part-time employees. Its administrative offices are located at 103 Orchard Street and it also owns 91 Orchard Street, its former administrative offices, and home to several residential tenants.
The President will be a visionary and creative leader with a deep love of history and knowledge of, and appreciation for, the immigrant/migrant experience in our country, who inspires and engages Board and staff as the Tenement Museum addresses the unprecedented current challenges affecting us all and looks forward to long-term vitality. The President will embrace and refine the existing strategic plan and continue the museum’s exciting growth and development. Reporting to and working closely with the Co-Chairs and the Tenement Museum Board, the President will manage the institution’s overall programs and operations, ensuring that visitor experience – the core of the Tenement Museum – remains paramount. The President will secure the museum’s future by expanding a sustainable mix of both earned and contributed income. The President will also assume a visible external role, serving as an enthusiastic spokesperson and tireless fundraiser, building awareness of the museum and significantly increasing and diversifying its funding base and endowment.
Key institutional priorities for the incoming President include but are not limited to:
- Serve as a proactive and highly visible ambassador and fundraiser for the museum; assume leadership of a multifaceted fundraising effort that reaches new supporters, solidifies relationships with existing ones, and builds community and trust (including, without limitation, relationships with existing governmental funding sources); develop and implement a corporate fundraising strategy; begin to explore new avenues of foundation support and new events-centered fundraising activities;
- Ensure the short- and long-term financial stability of the museum; strengthen internal processes and systems and demonstrate the business acumen necessary to ensure its ongoing success;
- Supervise, support, recruit as needed, and retain a highly qualified, motivated, and diverse professional staff; unify and empower the team; delegate and hold individuals accountable for specific and collective performance; maintain morale and provide direction;
- Oversee negotiation and finalization of a collective bargaining agreement;
- Secure funding for and supervise a comprehensive renovation of 97 Orchard Street to stabilize the building and ensure its continued viability;
- Take ownership of the museum’s strategic plan; prioritize and create measurable steps to achieve its objectives;
- Continue to sharpen and build the museum’s visibility and reach locally, nationally, and internationally; and ensure that programming and marketing efforts are aligned; strategically expand existing earned income streams, including membership, visitorship, and retail, and explore and develop new sources of earned revenue;
- Harness and maximize the appropriate use of technology and digital media in promoting the museum, reaching new and diverse audiences, and creating innovative and engaging exhibitions and programs; encourage the effective use of technology throughout the institution, improve internal coordination and communication;
- Develop strong and collaborative relationships with Co-Chairs and other members of the Board and inspire them to invest their best ideas, efforts, resources, and contacts; identify, recruit, and engage new Board members;
- Build effective relationships with key civic, education, and cultural leaders and partners in New York City and beyond, including the National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The President will be an experienced leader and administrator who believes strongly in the mission of the museum. To that end, they will be:
- A passionate ambassador, advocate, and spokesperson for the museum with the intellectual depth and rigor to be seen as a thought leader internally and externally; energized to nurture the intellectual life of and around the museum;
- An enthusiastic and accomplished fundraiser with individuals, foundations, government, and corporate sponsors, with the ability to develop and execute a development plan and connect with untapped philanthropic resources; capital and/or endowment campaign experience is a plus;
- Proven managerial skills as an effective delegator and leader known for fairness, decisiveness, and good and tempered judgement;
- Financially astute and committed to institutional sustainability, with a track record of developing and maintaining balanced budgets; experienced in the development and expansion of earned revenue streams and aligning strategic plans with organizational capacity and fiscal resources;
- Able to make critical decisions with sound financial judgment in times of stress;
- An energetic team builder and collaborator with a successful record of engaging, partnering, and building alliances with a wide range of stakeholders, internally and externally;
- A good listener and open communicator who is visible and accessible to staff and Board; compelling as both a speaker and a writer;
- A pragmatic risk taker with a track record of coalescing others around objectives and their successful implementation;
In addition, they will have:
- Demonstrated understanding of social/cultural history, the history of immigration, and the relevance of the immigration story in contemporary American society;
- Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; commitment to delegating, managing, mentoring, and empowering a dedicated, collegial, and diverse staff; experience with union-organized staff is a plus;
- Creative marketing savvy; facility with technology and digital platforms; experience in speaking to, and engaging with, the media and the general public on topics related to the mission and history of the museum;
- Experience energizing, engaging, and partnering with a board;
- A sense of humor and humility.
Equal Employment Opportunity has been, and will continue to be, a fundamental principle at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (the “Tenement Museum”), where employment is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, disability, pregnancy (including childbirth and related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or civil partnership/union status, alienage or citizenship status, creed, genetic information, predisposition or carrier status, military or veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.
For additional information, please visit https://www.tenement.org/
Please send applications or nominations to
Becky Klein and Mark Tarnacki at Tenement@PhillipsOppenheim.com.
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